Tuesday, November 22, 2005

You're the Inspiration

Where do we get our ideas for stories? Sometimes, I think it comes from the most bizarre places, but other times, it's from the fairly mundane. I had to drive down to ASU to meet with my thesis committee chair this morning. At an average speed of less than 10 MPH (not much of an exaggeration), it takes an hour and half or more to get there, so I had a CD playing in the car stereo system.* One of the songs was "Will You Still Love Me?" which has lyrics that go something like, "Just say you'll love me for the rest of my life." I started thinking, what if a man met a woman, and they fell in love, but she was in some dreadful accident. The only way to save her was to essentially turn her into a cyborg. Now what of his promise to love her "for the rest of her life"?

And that led to further explorations with the idea. Internet chat rooms are so popular these days, it's not uncommon to have good friends that you've never met in person. Marriages have even resulted in not a few cases. What if the man and woman met through a chat room? They fall in love, but the woman is deathly afraid of a coming event that will turn off all power to her region for a few hours. The man can't figure out why she's so afraid, until she finally confesses that she's not a human -- she's an A.I. Now he has to deal with love, and whether one can love a machine, and also with the impending loss of that love. Even if the A.I. is rebooted, it will not be the same personality, even if all the memories are restored.

And thus was born a short story, "Will You Love Me When the Lights Go Out?" The story explores not only the facelessness of our Internet culture, but also what it means to love, and to even be human. It also deals with the conflicts of love and loss, which is the driving force behind the story. I think it will be fun to write!

*For the curious, it was "Chicago: Greatest Hits." My hearing is not good enough -- even with hearing aids -- to actually make out the words to any of these songs, so I pretty much only listen to songs that I knew well from before I lost my hearing. My brain sort of fills in the words for me, so I still enjoy it (mostly). Interestingly enough, there are some songs on this CD that I don't know. It's kind of weird to be enjoying the music and then suddenly not be able to follow any of it. Odd how memory works...

** By the way, for those that don't recognize it, the title of this post is also a great Chicago song...

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